Monday, November 30, 2009

Cranberry, Apple and Citrus Sauce



I am not one to think there are sacred dishes that must be served for particular holidays. However if there is one dish that comes close to being sacred for me it is cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course I like to make different variations of the cranberry sauce and would never serve the jellied stuff from the can, but I do always serve some form of cranberry sauce. Each year I challenge myself to make a variation that is different from my prior recipes.

The recipe I made this year was particularly good. Adding fresh citrus to the cooked sauce changed the personality of the dish for me. I also liked the apple and raisins in the dish. This sauce is lightly sweet but with a nice tart background. I don’t know that many children would like this recipe, but it was very popular on our Thanksgiving table. The only dish that was more popular was the butternut squash salad I posted a few days ago. Here is what I made.

Cranberry, Apple and Citrus Sauce
Makes 8 servings – about 1/3 cup each

Ingredients:

2 cups whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
½ cup water
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger, powdered
¼ cup golden raisins
1 apple, cored and minced
2 clementines, cut into small pieces approximately the size of a cranberry

Directions:

Cook the cranberries in the water until they have all popped. Add the cinnamon, ginger, raisins and apple and cook a few minutes until the raisins have plumped a little. This should take under 5 minutes.

Now take the sauce off the heat and add the clementine pieces once the sauce has cooled to approximately room temperature.

Refrigerate until needed and serve cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 47.97
Calories From Fat (2%) - 1.05

Total Fat - 0.13g
Saturated Fat - 0.02g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 2.66mg
Potassium - 116.3mg
Total Carbohydrates - 12.52g
Fiber - 2.57g
Sugar - 7.42g
Protein - 0.5g

Comments:

I love a sweet and tart dish like this. It is fabulous on sandwiches or on top of a nice seitan cutlet. I would also use it in or with roasted butternut or acorn squash.

If you are looking for something that is a little different than the standard cranberry sauce this dish is quick, easy and quite tasty. We had this again last night on seitan cutlets and I think I liked it a little better as a leftover. The flavors seemed to have combined better while being stored.

Cranberry Orange Granita


(pictured: granita in an espresso cup with a demitasse spoon)

This granita is something I make all fall and winter long. It is the reason I buy at least 10 pounds of fresh cranberries each year for the freezer. I adore this dessert/palate cleanser. The fresh tart flavor is one of my favorites. We always have this with our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

If you like the flavor of cranberries I really think you will like this granita. It is easy to make sweeter by adding more agave. The red wine helps the mixture to achieve the correct consistency. If you prefer you can substitute white wine or a couple of tablespoons of vodka in lieu of red wine. If you use red wine be certain you love the flavor of the wine, as you will be able to taste it in this granita. Here is what I did.

Cranberry Orange Granita
Makes 8 servings of approximately 4 ounces each

Ingredients:

1 cup whole cranberries
2 cups cranberry juice, unsweetened (used "Just Cranberry" by RW Knudsen)
1 orange, zested and juice (buy organic since you are using the zest)
¼ cup red wine (used Amarone)
½ cup agave, or to taste

Directions:

Place the whole cranberries (frozen are fine) in your food processor and pulse to break them into small pieces. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and pulse to combine. Taste for sweetness. I used ½ cup of agave but you may need more. We try to stay away from sugar and now find that we don’t need much to make foods taste sweet. In the past we would have needed much more sweetener.

Pour the cranberry orange mixture into a shallow container with a lid. I used an 8 by 8 glass Pyrex that has a lid. Place in the freezer and set a timer for one hour.

Pull the mixture from the freezer, uncover it and use a fork to break up any portion that is starting to solidify. Recover the pan, return it to the freezer and reset your timer for an hour. Continue the process of scraping and returning the pan to the freezer until the mixture is completely frozen. The final texture should be similar to Italian ice. The ice crystals should be small. This is why you continue to scrape and fork the mixture as it freezes.

The exact time this takes will depend on how cold your freezer is. Mine is always finished in 5 hours or less, but I use my large stand-alone freezer that is colder than a standard refrigerator freezer. I would suggest you make it the day before you want to serve it.

The completely frozen and scraped granita will last for months in the freezer.

I prefer to have mini servings of this after a heavy meal as I have picture above. It seems to make me feel better as though I am digesting my dinner better, but this could be my imagination.

Nutritional Information (assumes 8 servings):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 61.77
Calories From Fat (2%) - 1.31

Total Fat - 0.16g
Saturated Fat - 0.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 4.91mg
Potassium - 120.03mg
Total Carbohydrates - 14.36g
Fiber - 2.21g
Sugar - 9.7g
Protein - 0.5g

Comments:

You get a fairly sizable portion for 60 calories. I only eat an espresso cup of this at a time and find it to be enough to satisfy my frozen sweet cravings. If you want to change the flavor you can add finely minced candied ginger, cinnamon powder, or fresh mint that you finely minced.

Each serving of this granita contains 97 grams of calcium but not much more in terms of nutrition. I eat this mostly because I like the texture and the flavor.

We have this for dessert or we serve it as a palate cleanser between courses when I make a multi course meal. This is always popular with my friends and family. The recipe I have given is what I make for my husband and I. When I am serving this to others I double the amount of sweetener.

Unrelated Note:

This morning started was a flurry of activity as I tried to get everything ready for my hubby to leave earlier than usual. Mondays aren’t my best day, and having to get started earlier than normal didn’t help. I made us a quick smoothie, packed his lunch and got out of the way while he buzzed around before leaving.

Next the felines, who think they are still kittens, decided to help me decorate for Christmas. They have a particular fondness for the ribbon I used as garland to drape on my tree. As I write this I have one cute little white boy sound asleep in the cat bed I snuggled under the tree. They are so angelic when they are sleeping. While I have an opportunity I am going to get back to decorating.

I will be back later with another recipe from Thanksgiving and tonight’s dinner (whatever that turns out to be). I really should try to plan our meals. That would make my life a little easier. I hope you are all having a great day!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brussels Sprouts and Clementine Sections with Citrus Poppy Seed Vinaigrette



Fall means brussels sprouts season at our house. As I have explained before my husband loves brussels sprouts so I try to make him a different version each week. This is the version I dreamed up tonight. It is a cross between a salad and a side dish. My father, who hates to cook, actually asked me for the recipe tonight. He said it was his favorite dish at dinner. Quite an endorsement I thought.

If you don’t have clementines or tangerines substitute one orange instead. I didn’t include the zest tonight because the citrus wasn’t organic. Had it been I would have added the citrus zest to the dressing for extra flavor. The citrus was not supremed because I have read that the citrus membrane is full of nutrition and potentially prevents cancer. Research is recent, but it seems to indicate the citrus membrane keeps trigylcerides down and helps prevent color and liver cancer in lab animals.

Tonight’s sprout dish is a combination of things that my hubby loves. Sprouts and poppy seed dressing are two of his favorites so I knew he would like the dish (and he did). I didn’t expect my parents to be so taken with it. If you are a sprout fan you may like it to. Here is what I made tonight.

Brussels Sprouts and Clementine Sections with Citrus Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 cups brussels sprouts, cleaned and cut in half
1 tablespoon clementine juice (1/2 a clementine)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon agave
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
2 ½ clementines, sectioned, seeds removed

Directions:

Microwave the brussels sprouts until they are tender crisp (3 minutes in my microwave).

Combine the clementine juice, wine vinegar, agave, olive oil, salt, pepper and poppy seeds. Whisk to incorporate the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the warm sprouts so that they will absorb more of the dressing. Add the clementine sections to the sprouts and toss to coat them in the dressing. Serve warm or room temperature.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 103.08
Calories From Fat (24%) - 24.88

Total Fat - 2.87g
Saturated Fat - 0.43g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 475.39mg
Potassium - 599.7mg
Total Carbohydrates - 18.2g
Fiber - 5.32g
Sugar - 7.52g
Protein - 4.58g

Comments:

The flavor of the dish is well balanced. It isn’t really sweet, or tart. Even I enjoyed this, and I am not a sprout lover.

If you want to reduce the fat reduce the poppy seeds, most of the calories in poppy seeds are from fat. I like the texture they add, but they are optional.

Each serving of this dish contains more than 1,200IU of vitamin A, 120mg of vitamin C, 100mg of calcium, 100mcg of folate, 220mcg of vitamin K, and 100mg of phosphorus.

Unrelated note:

I need to get my kitchen cleaned from dinner and work in a little more exercise.

I hope to have time to post another Thanksgiving recipe tonight. If not tonight I will get at least two of them posted tomorrow.

I hope you are all having a great evening.

Potato and Mixed Mushroom Gratin



After breakfast we had our normal green tea with ginger and pomegranate and went to work on Christmas decorating, at a leisurely pace. While we were decorating I was thinking about what to make for dinner. For some reason today I was having a mental block regarding what to serve tonight until after lunch. I finally opted to make a potato and mushroom gratin, seitan with leftover cranberry sauce and brussels sprouts and clementines with citrus poppy seed vinaigrette.

The potato and mushroom gratin had the most prep work and longest cooking time so I started that first. The mushrooms and potatoes were soaking while I was decorating for Christmas. When it was time to reduce the mushroom liquid to make the base of the sauce I needed to spend time in the kitchen. I would estimate the entire meal took only 30 minutes of active cooking/preparation time and another 40 minutes of cooking time. Here is what I make tonight.

Potato and Mixed Mushroom Gratin
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed dried mushrooms (from Costco)
4 cups water to rehydrate mushrooms
4 red potatoes, thinly sliced on a mandolin
½ cup almond milk, unsweetened
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 pinch kosher salt, to taste
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Place the mushrooms and water in a microwave safe bowl and heat until the water is just below boiling (3 minutes in my microwave). Allow the mushrooms to sit in the water for at least 30 minutes so they can soften.

Set the mandolin one level up from the thinnest setting. Place the sliced potatoes in the bowl of cold water and hold at room temperature while the mushrooms are soaking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (convection setting).

After the mushrooms have softened strain the soaking liquid through a fine wire mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel (to remove any sandy grit), reserve the mushrooms for later. Pour the mushroom liquid into a saucepan and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. When this happens add the almond milk and cornstarch slurry and simmer until it thickens. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to your taste. Turn off the heat and allow to cool so that you can handle the sauce.

Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easier cleanup later). Place four individual spring form pans (approximately 4 inches across) on the sheet pan. Start with a layer of four potatoes slices (they should cover the entire bottom of the pan with a little overlap. Continue layering ¼ of the potatoes in each pan. Finish with ¼ of the mushroom sauce. Fill all four spring form pans with potatoes and mushroom sauce.

Cover the top of the four pans with parchment and then top the pan with another half sheet pan that is weighted down. Bake until the potatoes are tender (about 40 minutes), and then remove from the oven. Allow the potato gratin to cool enough that you can unlatch the pan and remove the dish. A thin spatula should slide easily under the bottom potato stack.

Serve with some of the reserved mushrooms on top. You can warm the mushrooms in a microwave if you choose. I kept mine in a pot of the back of the stove where the oven vents heat so that would keep them warm but not dry them out.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 170.41
Calories From Fat (4%) - 6.03

Total Fat - 0.68g
Saturated Fat - 0.06g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 106.47mg
Potassium - 967.34mg
Total Carbohydrates - 39.52g
Fiber - 4.24g
Sugar - 0.4g
Protein - 4.4g

Comments:

The flavor of this dish was quite good. Additionally the texture of the potatoes was also nice. However, I wasn’t entirely pleased by the texture of the sauce. Next time I will make the sauce thicker. I didn’t like the way the sauce ran on the plate but I suppose that is a minor criticism.

Unrelated Note:

I will be back soon with another brussels sprout recipe. Tonight the brussels sprouts were the clear favorite at the table. My father even asked for the recipe (and he hates to cook). I took that as glowing review. If you knew him you would understand.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Curried Cauliflower, Mushroom, Carrot and Beans over Yellow Rice


(pictured: Curried vegetables over yellow rice that you can't see)


(pictured: yellow rice)

Please don’t let the long list of ingredients keep you from trying this recipe. The vegetables and sauce come together in the time it takes to cook the brown rice. This is a quick one-dish meal. It contains lots of veggies and whole grains and is low in fat. Not to mention high in fiber and protein. This is one of those meals that will keep you full for hours.

I like to include Indian food in our meal rotation as often as I can because so many health benefits have been linked to turmeric. The one I care most about is its ability to potentially kill cancer. Additionally I have read that turmeric is more bioavailable when it is sautéed in a little oil with a generous quantity of black pepper. So, that is how I use turmeric to maximize the health benefits.

Tonight’s dinner was flavorful as well as filling. Everyone enjoyed it, even the omnivores. Here is what I made tonight.

Curried Cauliflower, Mushroom, Carrot and Beans over Yellow Rice
Makes 4 large servings

Rice Ingredients:

1 teaspoon oil (canola or olive)
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon coriander seed
1 ½ cups brown basmati rice
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
2 black cardamom pods
2 bay leaves

Curried Vegetable Ingredients:

½ tablespoon oil (canola or olive)
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
14 ounces diced tomato
2 cups almond milk
4 cups cauliflower, broken into small bite size florets
6 cups mushrooms, cut into bite size pieces
6 large carrots, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup cooked beans, garbanzo (would be best, I used mini favas)
1 pinch of kosher salt
1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, more if you like heat
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in water
3 green onions, finely chopped
½ cup bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
cashews for garnish – optional

Directions:

Sauté the turmeric, black pepper, and coriander for a few minutes. Then add the rice, water, cinnamon, cardamom pods and bay leaves and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling reduce it to a simmer and cook until the water is absorbed (about 40 minutes).

Allow the rice to remain in the pot uncovered for 10 minutes after you turn off the heat.

Remove the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods and then fluff it with a fork before serving.

While the rice is cooking make the curried vegetables. Heat the oil and cook the spices (turmeric through garlic) for a couple of minutes until they smell aromatic.

Now add the ingredients listed above tomato through salt and cook until the vegetables are as tender as you like. I cooked mine about 15 minutes. If the vegetables are done before the rice turn off the heat cover the pot and return when the rice is resting off the heat.

To finish the dish, thicken the sauce with the cornstarch slurry. Add the remaining ingredient just before serving. Stir them into the vegetable mixture. Save a little cilantro for the top. If you choose to add the optional cashews place them on top.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 578.58
Calories From Fat (13%) - 73.27

Total Fat - 8.46g
Saturated Fat - 1.09g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 263.17mg
Potassium - 1890.52mg
Total Carbohydrates - 107.63g
Fiber - 21.06g
Sugar - 13.91g
Protein - 21.81g

Comments:

This is not a traditional Indian dish; it is something I threw together from what I had on hand. Traditionally I have seen this dish include potatoes and not be served over rice. I was more in a brown rice mood tonight so I went with that form of starch instead.

I intentionally made this meal a little on the bland side since my elderly parents were coming for dinner tonight. If there were made just for Dan and I there would have been a fresh jalapeno or Serrano in this dish.

Each serving of this dish contains more than 21,600IU of vitamin A, 200mg of calcium, 240mcg of folate, 50mcg of folate, 600mg of phosphorus, 220mg of magnesium and 50mcg of selenium. A fairly healthy dish I would say.

Unrelated note:

I need to get moving, literally. I have gotten back on the exercise bandwagon and need to do a little more exercise before I call it a night. There is a bosu ball calling my name that I need to get back to, as it were.

I hope you are all having a good evening and are doing something fun, unlike me.

Butternut Squash, Pineapple, Dried Cranberries and Walnut Salad



This is another dish we had for Thanksgiving that changed sometime between the original menu and when I actually made it. I can’t say why I changed my mind; I just wasn’t in the mood for spinach when I started making this salad. Since the hubby and I love vanilla I decided to add that to salad and went from there.

Surprisingly this salad was one of the hits on the dinner table. Everyone liked and it and said I should make it again. I think it was the vanilla but am not actually certain why it was so popular. The salad was a tiny bit sweet from the maple syrup, pineapple and cranberries, but also had the unmistakable floral aroma from the vanilla. I enjoyed the textural contrast from the walnuts. Overall this dish came together is a very pleasant way that we all enjoyed. Here is what I did.

Butternut Squash, Pineapple, Dried Cranberries and Walnut Salad
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
1 cup pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, zested and juiced
2 tablespoon toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

Steam the butternut squash until it is tender. Set it aside to cool. Add the pineapple and dried cranberries.

Whisk together the maple syrup, vanilla, orange juice and zest and add it the salad. Toss to coat everything and refrigerate until needed.

Top the salad with the toasted walnuts just before serving to keep them from getting too soft. Best served cold, or at least cool.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 103.11
Calories From Fat (3%) - 2.64

Total Fat - 0.3g
Saturated Fat - 0.03g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 5.16mg
Potassium - 425.88mg
Total Carbohydrates - 25.69g
Fiber - 3.12g
Sugar 6.8g
Protein - 1.25g

Comments:

I was a little surprised that a dish I sort of tossed together an hour before dinner would be so popular. Everyone, including the picky parents, really liked this dish. It is only subtly sweet. Don’t expect it to be cranberry sauce sweet.

Each serving of this salad has over 11,100IU of vitamin A. If you think you are low on vitamin A, eat more butternut squash.

Unrelated note:

Things have been hectic here preparing for Christmas. Sorry I have been late getting all the Thanksgiving recipes posted. I do hope to have them all posted by the end of the coming week. I have quite a few more to write up. I hadn’t realized how much I made until I started putting in all of it into the cookbook software. No wonder I was exhausted after dinner. It really was a ridiculous number of dishes. Oh well, we all enjoyed the food and there were plenty of leftovers to go around.

I need to get back to Christmas decorating. It takes days to get it all done because I am so ridiculously OCD about it. I will try to take some decent photos and post them after we get it all done.

If I have time I will be back later with another recipe tonight. I made a nice curried vegetable dish for dinner tonight that I hope to get posted this evening.

Sauerkraut with Apple and Onion


(pictured: Mashed Potato and Cauliflower with Sauerkraut, Apple and Onion)

Sauerkraut is a traditional Thanksgiving side dish where I live in Baltimore, Maryland. I think it is because there was a sizable German population. In fact both my family and my husband’s family have German heritage even though it is the Italian side of my family that relate to the most.

I adore sauerkraut, I could eat it everyday and never tire of it. My husband on the other hand is not thrilled with sauerkraut. After asking many questions I discovered that he didn’t like the saltiness. I started soaking the sauerkraut in fresh water to remove some of the salt and it worked; now my hubby likes sauerkraut. Had it not been for my hubby I wouldn’t have tried to remove the salt but now I like it better this way and feel good knowing it is better for us.

Sauerkraut with Apple and Onion
Makes 8 servings about ½ cup each

Ingredients:

4 cups sauerkraut
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon water
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup vegetables stock (or water)
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Drain the sauerkraut in a wire colander. Drop the colander (including sauerkraut) in a big bowl of water. Allow the sauerkraut to stand in the water while you cook the onions, then drain. This removes a lot of the sodium from the sauerkraut making it more heart healthy.

Water sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of water until soft. Add the sliced apple, vegetable stock (or water), rinsed and drained sauerkraut, and caraway stock to the pot and simmer until the apple is soft.

Before serving taste the sauerkraut for seasoning and add black pepper and salt if desired.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 29.28
Calories From Fat (6%) - 1.67

Total Fat - 0.19g
Saturated Fat - 0.03g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 220.2mg
Potassium - 148.24mg
Total Carbohydrates - 6.41g
Fiber - 2.55g
Sugar - 3.06g
Protein - 0.88g

The sodium number is overstated since I used the package numbers and didn’t reduce them. The sodium has been reduced by soaking the sauerkraut in water (it tastes less salty), but since I didn’t know by how much, I used the sodium number per the package nutritional information to be more conservative.

Comments:

I like to have sauerkraut as a snack with a small amount of baked or mashed potato. If you have it with the half potato half cauliflower mash it is even a healthier snack. What I like about this snack is that it is filling but is low calorie, low fat and has a decent amount of fiber, and I really like the taste of this sauerkraut.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Split Pea Soup


(pictured: split pea soup topped with truffle cream and Italian finishing salt)

The weather today was cool (47 degrees Fahrenheit), cloudy, and windy. It also looked as though it was going to rain most of day. Definitely not weather conducive to getting outside. With the wind blowing against the house and leaves rustling around outside soup seemed like the appropriate thing to make today. Not to mention it was something that didn’t need much attention while I did other things in the house.

Split pea soup is one of my favorites. I prefer mine smooth and the hubby likes his chunky. So, to make us both happy I puree half the soup in the blender and leave half chunky and then mix them together. Voila, we are both happy, or equally unhappy depending on how you choose to look at it.

As usual I have kept the fat down by water sautéing the veggies. Additionally I have kept the sodium down by adding a small amount to the pot and then finishing the soup with an acid, in this case lemon juice, and finishing the soup with a sprinkling of salt on top when serving. All these things contribute to the fat and sodium content of this soup. Now I can have a little salad with oil in the dressing without having too much processed fat in my day. Here is the soup I made tonight as part of our dinner.

Split Pea Soup
Makes 8 servings about 2 cups each

Ingredients:

1 red onion, peeled and finely minced
4 carrots, finely diced
2 parsnips, finely diced
2 cups water to water sauté vegetables
1 pound split peas
water to cover soup ingredients by 1 inch
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Italian finished salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Directions:

Water sauté the onion, carrots, and parsnips until tender. Add the remaining ingredients except the lemon and cook until the split peas are tender. The exact time it will take to cook the peas will depend on their age. Older peas and beans take longer to cook but will eventually get soft.

I pureed half the soup in my blender to make texture that is smooth and chunky. However, you can leave it completely chunky or smooth.

Add the lemon juice and zest just before serving. Then taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. I find that if I add a little on top of each serving I can lower the overall sodium content in our food.

You can top the soup with tofu sour cream, truffle cream, truffle oil or a little extra virgin olive oil. Any of them would work well. I had my soup tonight with a dollop of truffle cream, but I am a truffle junkie.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 270.06
Calories From Fat (3%) - 8.59

Total Fat - 1.03g
Saturated Fat - 0.15g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 287.96mg
Potassium - 957.43mg
Total Carbohydrates - 52.6g
Fiber - 19.3g
Sugar - 9.88g
Protein - 15.41g

Comments:

This is one of those meals that are so comforting when the weather is cool and generally unpleasant. A hot bowl of thick split pea soup is the perfect answer to cool fall weather in my opinion.

Each serving of this soup contains more than 6,800IU of vitamin A, 200mcg of folate, and 270mg of phosphorus.

Unrelated note:

The hubby is on his way home from the office so we are going to start pulling out Christmas decorations for the cats to knock down.

I will be back tomorrow with more of my recipes from Thanksgiving.

I hope you all have a great evening.

Brussels Sprouts and Red Onions in Lemon Sauce with Almonds



This is one of the dishes that changed from my original Thanksgiving menu. I thought I had stashed a jar of chestnuts in the pantry but when I went to get them they weren’t there. Since I hadn’t planned well I changed the brussels sprouts dish on the fly. Normally I would make my brussels sprouts with agave and mustard but I thought we had enough sweet dishes on the table so I wanted something that was all savory. Lemon and almonds both work beautifully with brussels sprouts so that is what I went with.

The men in my family love brussels sprouts so they are somewhat of a requirement for fall dinners. Since I like lemon this recipe also worked well for me. Remember to cook the brussels sprouts as little as possible to retain the most nutrition. Since brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family they are good for preventing cancer when lightly cooked. Here is what I made.

Brussels Sprouts and Red Onions in Lemon Sauce with Almonds
Makes 8 approximately ¾ cup servings

Ingredients:

2 pounds of brussels sprouts
½ red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups vegetables stock
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons almonds, sliced
1 pinch Italian finishing salt

Directions:

Clean the brussels sprouts by removing the bottom of the sprout with a sharp paring knife and removing the two exterior leaves. Cut each sprout in half, top to bottom. Steam the sprouts until they are just beginning to get tender (about 8 minutes). They will continue to cook in a sauce so you don’t want to take them too far when you steam them.

Cook the onion in a little vegetable stock (about a ½ cup) until it is soft. Add the remaining vegetable stock, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the dissolved cornstarch and bring the sauce to a simmer so that the sauce will reach its maximum thickness.

To serve, plate the sprouts and sauce and top with the almonds and a pinch of the Italian finishing salt and serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 74.07
Calories From Fat (17%) - 12.52

Total Fat - 1.49g
Saturated Fat - 0.16g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 65.9mg
Potassium - 468.23mg
Total Carbohydrates - 13.74g
Fiber - 4.81g
Sugar - 2.81g
Protein - 4.43g

Comments:

The sprouts were well received at dinner last night. While everyone loves the version I make with agave and mustard these also disappeared fairly quickly. I liked the acidity in the sauce and the crunchiness of the almonds. Overall this is a nice well-rounded dish.

Each serving of this dish contains more than 800IU of vitamin A, 100mg of vitamin C, 70mcg of folate, and 200mcg of vitamin K. Not too shabby for a small serving of veggies.

Unrelated Note:

I need to get back to cleaning. However, I will be back later today with another recipe. I hope you are all having a great day.

Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower with Caramelized Garlic


(pictured: mashed potatoes and cauliflower with caramelized garlic and topped with Italian finishing salt)

Last night we were up a little later than normal (about 1:30am) and decided to sleep this morning until we work up. At 9 am we finally decided to get up and start our respective days. As usual we had our cranberry and apple oatmeal this morning, green drink and green tea with ginger and pomegranate. We both like to start our day as healthy as possible.

The hubby has left for his office downtown to get some work done and I will be spending the day at home cleaning and getting ready to start putting up the Christmas decorations tonight after dinner. Something tells me there will be a little cooking today too. ;)

Before I get started cleaning I wanted to post another recipe from Thanksgiving. The family thinks mashed potatoes are a requirement on the Thanksgiving table. I don’t think any of us need that much starch. In order to make the potatoes a little healthier I substituted half the potatoes with cauliflower and added caramelized garlic for flavor that didn’t involve a lot of fat. These potatoes were very popular last night. There were even seconds after I told people that the dish was half cauliflower. Here is how I made the potatoes last night.

Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower with Caramelized Garlic
Makes 8 servings of 1 cup each

Ingredients:

4 cups of peeled, potatoes
4 cups chopped cauliflower florets
2 heads caramelized garlic, drained of excess oil
1 pinch kosher salt (or Italian Finishing salt)

Directions:

Boil and drain the potatoes and smash or rice. Boil and drain the cauliflower and smash of rice and add to the potatoes. Add the caramelized garlic (skins removed) and stir to combine it into the potatoes and cauliflower. Season with kosher salt or Italian finishing salt and serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 211.36
Calories From Fat (5%) - 10.07

Total Fat - 1.15g
Saturated Fat - 0.19g
Cholesterol -0mg
Sodium - 65.79mg
Potassium - 1151.45mg
Total Carbohydrates - 45.99g
Fiber - 6.48g
Sugar - 3.08g
Protein - 6.29g

The numbers above assume that ½ tablespoon of oil remained after I drained garlic. That is probably overstating the number but I would prefer to be conservative with my numbers.

Comments:

In spite of these potatoes containing two heads of garlic they were not as “garlicky” as I expected. Next time I may use three heads of garlic. As they were made they would work with most any sides, but I prefer a decided Italian flavor.

The texture of these was exactly like mashed potatoes. If I hadn’t told the family, they would have had no idea they were half cauliflower. I don’t think I will ever make my mashed potatoes without cauliflower again.

Unrelated notes:

I am off to clean the house. When I take a break from cleaning I will post another recipe or two from last night.

I hope you are all having a great long weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Crimini Mushrooms Stuffed with Basil Pesto Flavored Milllet



I wanted to make a stuffed mushroom appetizer to go with our Thanksgiving meal. However, I didn’t want anything that had a gloppy filling. Last week when we went out to dinner our chef friend Ian made a pesto flavored quinoa for us. I loved the combination of quinoa and pesto as a side dish and wanted to make something similar today. It turned out to be a great filling for a stuffed mushroom. Here is what I made.

Crimini Mushrooms Stuffed with Basil Pesto Flavored Milllet
Makes 12 mushroom caps

Ingredients:

Approximately ½ cup of pesto flavored millet (recipe below)
12 crimini mushroom caps, stems removed
1 pinch Italian Finishing salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Sprinkle interior of the mushrooms with the Italian finishing salt. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the mushrooms are beginning to soften.

Now flip the mushrooms over and stuff each cap with the pesto flavored millet and bake long enough to warm the millet. The amount of time this will take depends on the temperature of the millet when you fill the mushroom caps. Don’t overcook since you don’t want the millet to dry out.

If you like you can add a few pine nuts to the millet and/or top with whole wheat bread crumbs if you want a crunchy top.

Nutritional Information (per mushroom cap):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 22.9
Calories From Fat (20%) - 4.64

Total Fat - 0.52g
Saturated Fat - 0.07g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 24.57mg
Potassium - 73.06mg
Total Carbohydrates - 3.65g
Fiber - 0.45g
Sugar - 0.25g
Protein - 0.85g

Comments:

These stuffed mushrooms have a lot of flavor considering how low fat they are compared to standard stuffed mushrooms. Everyone enjoyed them tonight, vegans and omnivores. I will definitely be making many different variations of these during the holidays since they were so well received.

Pesto Flavored Millet
Makes 2 ½ cups – 5 half cup servings

Ingredients:

1 cup millet
2 ½ cups water
3 tablespoons Genovese pesto

Directions:

Combine the millet and water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling reduce to a simmer and cook covered until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Allow to stand covered for at least 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Add the pesto a tablespoon at a time and fluff into the millet with a fork. Add pesto until you like the color and flavor. We thought 3 tablespoons of pesto was enough.

This recipe makes much more filling than is necessary to stuff 12 mushrooms. However, extra pesto flavored millet won’t be a problem. The leftover millet makes a wonderful side dish.

Nutritional Information (1/2 cup serving):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 187.55
Calories From Fat (25%) - 47.01

Total Fat - 5.24g
Saturated Fat - 0.67g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 5.8mg
Potassium - 103.11mg
Total Carbohydrates - 29.6g
Fiber - 3.54g
Sugar - 0.1g
Protein - 4.84g

Comments:

This millet is so good you will be glad you made extra. I intentionally made more than I needed for the mushrooms so that we had leftovers for lunch the next couple of days. Adding pesto to the millet adds so much to the millet making it more than an ordinary side dish.

When I made this earlier today both the hubby and I had to taste it and …. let’s just say it was a good thing I made extra since we tasted a bit more than we actually needed to for quality control.

Unrelated note:

I think is going to be my last post tonight. I need to relax and unwind. A hot bath is calling my name at the moment. I will be back tomorrow with more recipes from our Thanksgiving menu. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Warm Olives with Fennel and Citrus



Today has been a whirlwind at our house. I started cooking at 11 am and just finished cleaning up at 8:30 this evening. Every holiday I say I am not going to make so many dishes, and each holiday I do it again. Hopefully I will maintain my sanity this Christmas and make fewer dishes. Needless to say I am exhausted now and there is no way I am going to get everything from today posted this evening. I hope to get a few recipes posted tonight before I crash.

One of our appetizers tonight was warm olives with fennel and citrus. This dish was inspired by a Sicilian salad that contains olives, oranges and red pepper. Everyone serves olives cold, so I decided to heat them for a change. I like how the heat helped the olives to absorb the citrus juice. Here is what I did.

Warm Olives with Fennel and Citrus
Makes 6 appetizer servings

Ingredients:

1 cup olives
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 clementine, zested and juiced
1 pinch red pepper flakes

Directions:

Take the zest off the clementine in strips. Juice the clementine into a baking dish. Combine all the ingredients and stir. Bake at 325 degrees until heated through (20 minutes is more than enough). Serve warm.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 39.3
Calories From Fat (69%) - 27.14

Total Fat - 3.16g
Saturated Fat - 0.41g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 195.43mg
Potassium - 29.26mg
Total Carbohydrates - 3.03g
Fiber - 1.05g
Sugar - 1.13g
Protein - 0.31g

Comment:

The family is evenly split on olives. I happen to be one of members that love olives. They are something I could eat everyday, were it not for the sodium content. This flavor combination is a nice change. If you are looking for an olive recipe with more heat try this recipe, which includes lemon and harissa.

Unrelated note:

Everything at dinner tonight was well received in spite of the fact that it was healthy and vegan. A few dishes seemed to stand out as favorites. As I post those recipes I be certain to add family member reactions. And yes, I do take notes after dinner so I don't forget. I wouldn't want to misquote someone.

There may be a few less posts this weekend as I get our Christmas decorations up. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I like to go all out and decorate all three levels of our house. I like to get the decorating started right after Thanksgiving so tomorrow I will getting all decorations out to get the party started. I will get all the Thanksgiving recipes posted as soon as I can.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Indian Inspired Cabbage and Peas over Yellow Rice



Today was a hectic day at my house and I had not planned dinner. While this is not unusual sometimes it is more problematic than others. I had been so focused on Thanksgiving I couldn’t think of anything to make tonight. When I saw what the Shenandoah Vegan had for lunch today I knew that was the answer.

Indian food is so amazingly healthy due to the large amount of vegetables and the generous use of spice (particularly turmeric). Since turmeric has been linked to both preventing cancer, slowing the spread and working with chemotherapy to make it more effective I like to include it to our diet when I can. Turmeric is not generally well absorbed. However by sautéing it in a little oil with a generous amount of black pepper the body is better able to absorb the turmeric.

Our dinner tonight is not authentic Indian food, at least not that I know of. I combined these ingredients based on what I had in the house after seeing Shenandoah’s lunch. While it isn’t authentic, the hubby and I enjoyed it and would definitely make it again. Here is what I made.

Indian Inspired Cabbage and Peas over Yellow Rice
Serves 3

Rice Ingredients:

½ tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup brown basmati rice, preferred (I used short grain brown rice)
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves

Cabbage and Peas Ingredients:

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 pinch asafoetida
¼ teaspoon fenugreek
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
14 ounces canned diced tomato
8 cups finely shredded savoy cabbage
1 cup green peas, frozen
2 tablespoons cashews, for garnish

Directions:

Combine the turmeric, olive oil and the black pepper and sauté for a minute or two. Add the remaining crushed red pepper flakes and brown rice and stir to coat with oil. Now add the water, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and bring the water to a boil (with pan covered). When water comes to a boil reduce to a simmer and cook until the water has been absorbed (probably about 40 minutes). After the water has been absorbed turn off the heat and allow the rice to stand in the covered pan for 5 minutes then fluff and serve.

While the rice is cooking water sauté the red onion until soft and water has evaporated. Now add the turmeric, olive oil, mustard seed, cumin, coriander, asafetida, fenugreek, and red pepper flakes and sauté for a minute. Add the canned tomato and cook for a 14 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. When the rice is 10 to 15 minutes from being ready add the cabbage and cook on low to wilt. Remember that cruciferous vegetables are most nutritious the less they are cooked. Add the peas a few minutes before serving (they only need to heat through).

When serving top with the cashews.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 440.15
Calories From Fat (16%) - 68.55

Total Fat - 8.09g
Saturated Fat - 1.46g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 117.06mg
Potassium - 1026.64mg
Total Carbohydrates - 83.99g
Fiber - 15.8g
Sugar - 14.57g
Protein - 13.55g

Comments:

While this isn’t an authentic dish we both enjoyed it. I had intended this to be two servings but it was so large when finished I decided to save a 1/3 of it for a quick snack tomorrow while we are making dinner.

The nutritional information for this meal is fairly impressive. Each serving contains more than 2,300IU of vitamin A, 110mg of vitamin C, 210mg of calcium, 120mcg of folate, 200mcg of vitamin K, 370mg of phosphorus, 160mg of magnesium and 17mcg of selenium.

I hope you all have a happy and health Thanksgiving. I can't wait to see what you are having for your holiday meal. Have a great evening and a fabulous 4 day weekend.

Genovese Pesto



Italians make many different forms of pesto even though in America we tend to only see the basil version that is popular in Genoa. I have a particular fondness for pesto. It packs a big flavor punch and can be used to dress up many different foods. I put it in mashed potatoes, salad dressing, tofu ricotta, and on top of veggie burgers to name a few options.

This particular batch of pesto was made to flavor the cooked grain that will be stuffed into the crimini mushroom caps. Our chef friend Ian made a parsley pesto flavored quinoa last Friday and that inspired my mushroom recipe that will be posted tomorrow. Here is how I made pesto today without parmesan cheese.

Genovese Pesto
Makes a little over a cup – 17 tablespoons

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, cleaned and packed tightly
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
½ cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste (or use Italian Finishing Salt)

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in your food processor and process until smooth. The pesto should be thick and creamy. You may need to stop the processor and scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice while processing. Taste the pesto for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as you desire. Additionally, you can add more olive oil if you wish, but I think it tastes great just like this.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator with a light coating of olive oil over the top to keep the basil from oxidizing. If you are going to need to store it longer than 4 or 5 days the pesto can be frozen.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 60.59
Calories From Fat (90%) - 54.81

Total Fat - 5.92g
Saturated Fat - 0.64g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 0.4mg
Potassium - 39.87mg
Total Carbohydrates - 0.77g
Fiber - 0.23g
Sugar - 0.16g
Protein - 0.72g

Comments:

Pesto is a calorie dense food due to the nuts and olive oil. However, I think the flavor it packs it worth the “price”. This pesto is great over vegetables or pasta if you have leftovers.

If you are a fan of the flavor of nutritional yeast the recipe as written should work for you. However, if you aren’t a fan of nutritional yeast yet start with one tablespoon and taste the pesto for flavor before adding the second tablespoon.

Each tablespoon of this pesto has a little vitamin A (260IU) and K (24mcg) but not a lot.

Basil Oil


(pictured: unstrained basil oil)

This morning I made a quick batch of basil oil for when fresh basil is hard to get this fall and winter. Basil oil is very easy to make. There are only a few steps. The resulting oil is a vibrant green color with a heady basil aroma and flavor. Here is what I did.

Basil Oil
Makes about 1 ¼ cups – 20 tablespoons

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, tightly packed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Thoroughly clean the leaves of any dirt or sand.

Bring a large pot of water with a little salt to a simmer. Create an ice bath with ice and water so that you can shock the leaves as soon as they come out of the hot water.

Place the leaves in the simmering water for 20 seconds. Remove the leaves promptly and place them in the ice bath to shock them and lock in the color. As soon as the leaves have cooled (about a minute) remove them from the water. Dry the leaves on a couple of layers of paper towel. Once the leaves are dry move them to a blender and add the olive oil. Puree until the oil is smooth.

Some chefs like to strain the oil through a couple of layers of cheesecloth so that it is transparent green. I prefer to leave the leaf pulp in the oil for the textural and visual difference. When the oil is unstrained it looks like a broken vinaigrette on the plate, which I find very visually appealing.

Store this oil in the refrigerator and use it in a couple of weeks, or freeze the oil for longer storage.

Nutritional Information (per tablespoon):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 96.99
Calories From Fat (99%) - 95.8

Total Fat - 10.84g
Saturated Fat - 1.49g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1.23mg
Potassium - 20.93mg
Total Carbohydrates - 0.21g
Fiber - 0.12g
Sugar - 0.03g
Protein - 0.18g

Comments:

This oil is great to use any place you would include fresh basil. Anything with tomatoes is the obviously choice. I like to drizzle it on tomato soup, use it in salad dressings, or decorate plates with drops of the green oil around the rim.

Since I use so little oil now the quantity of oil I made will last me at least 4 or 5 months. To keep it fresh I am going to store it in the freezer in a squeeze bottle with plastic wrap over the top. When I need the oil I will take the bottle from the freezer and place it in a warm water bath to partially defrost the oil. Since I will only be using a few drops at the time enough oil should defrost in a minute or two. Enjoy.

Thanksgiving Cartoons

I have been collecting these for a couple of years and pull them out each Thanksgiving to email to friends. At the very least they are thought provoking and some make me smile. Enjoy








I will be back in a little while with a recipe for basil oil.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Miso Dressed Salad with Apple, Raisin, Hazelnut and Seitan



After spending most of the day in the kitchen I wasn’t in the mood to make anything that took much time. When I want something quick I frequently turn to salad, which is what we had tonight for dinner.

I could live on salad and frequently do. Salads are probably my favorite food, followed closely by soups and stews. However, they can be a little boring. I am still completely in love with miso salad dressing. Thanks so much Oraphan for posting your recipe a couple of weeks ago. Without you I don’t know long it would have taken me to make miso dressing. Both the hubby and I are hooked.

Since it is fall, and we have about 50 apples in the house I decided to add those to the salad. They work so well with the miso. I used hazelnuts and hazelnut oil tonight for a change. Golden raisins are so pretty I tossed those on as well. Here is what I made tonight.

Miso Dressed Salad with Apple, Raisin, Hazelnut and Seitan
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 ½ tablespoons white miso
1 ½ tablespoons mirin
½ tablespoon hazelnut oil (or other nut or canola oil)
2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
10 cups mesclun
2 tablespoon golden raisins
2 tablespoons hazelnut
1 seitan cutlet with rosemary and sage, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Directions:

Whisk together the miso, mirin and hazelnut oil. Add the apple slices and toss to coat. Add the mesclun to the apple and dressing and toss to coat.

Plate the greens and apples. Top with raisins, hazelnuts and seitan slices.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 333.29
Calories From Fat (25%) - 84.49

Total Fat - 10.36g
Saturated Fat - 0.98g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 636.88mg
Potassium - 874.47mg
Total Carbohydrates - 49.65g
Fiber - 10.05g
Sugar - 21.78g
Protein - 19.65g

Comments:

Ever since I made that first miso dressing I have been hooked. It is very difficult now to make other dressings I love this one so much. Sorry for the recipe rut.

Each serving of this salad contains more than 1,000IU of vitamin A, 100mg of vitamin C, 120mg of calcium, 170mcg of folate, 130mg of phosphorus, and 12mcg of selenium. Not bad for 333 calories.

Unrelated note:

It is getting late here, after 11pm and it is time for me to start slowing down. I will be back tomorrow with more cooking updates as I have a few minutes. Have a great evening.

Seitan Cutlets with Rosemary and Sage



As you saw on the menu the omnivores are having turkey for Thanksgiving. I wanted something for the hubby and I that was “meat like” so seitan immediately came to mind. Since I wanted something that had a similar flavor profile as turkey I decided to make a “poultry like” cutlet by keeping the flavors light and adding rosemary and sage. I used more rosemary than sage since I prefer the flavor. Additionally, rosemary contains carnosol (a type of terpene), which reduces the ability of cancer to spread. The National Institute of Health has been studying rosemary and its ability to help chemotherapy penetrate cancer cells with good success.

As usual I turned to my typical steam baked method since it is my husband’s favorite form of seitan. When you first add the wet ingredients to the breadcrumbs the mixture is going to appear to be too green. Don’t worry that is how it should look. After you add the gluten the green color will not be noticeable. Here is the recipe for the cutlets I made today for Thanksgiving on Thursday.

Seitan Cutlets with Rosemary and Sage
Makes 8 cutlets

Ingredients:

½ cup yellow onions, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup water
additional water to make 2 cups of liquid
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, fresh
6 sage leaves, fresh
¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon Italian finishing salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
2 cups vital wheat gluten
olive oil for the pan

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (convection setting).

Water sauté the onions and garlic until completely soft. Place the mixture in your blender. Add enough water to make 2 cups of liquid. Add the rosemary, sage, mustard, finishing salt, and black pepper to the blender and puree until completely combined and smooth.

Pour the contents of the blender over the breadcrumbs and allow the mixture to stand for at least 10 minutes. You want the bread to be completely soft before proceeding.

Add the vital wheat gluten to the wet mixture and knead to combine all the ingredients. If any of the vital wheat gluten remains dry add a little more water a tablespoon at a time and knead to combine.

Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet with a little olive oil. I always use my cast iron skillet.

Divide the dough into 8 roughly equal pieces. Form each piece into a cutlet shape. Cook each cutlet on both sides until crisp top and bottom. Move the cutlets to a half sheet pan. Crisp the exterior of the remaining cutlets and move to the baking sheet.

Now add ½ cup of water to the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes turn the pan around (to make certain both sides cook evenly) and add another ½ cup of water. Bake for an additional 20 minutes. If at the end of cooking the pan is not dry return it to the oven until the water is all gone.

At this point the cutlets can be used as you would use chicken breast. Or they can be cooled and wrapped with plastic cling film and frozen in a zip top bag until needed. These cutlets freeze beautifully. I always make a full batch even though there are only two of us.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 196.34
Calories From Fat (11%) - 21.28

Total Fat - 2.39g
Saturated Fat - 0.41g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 256mg
Potassium - 121.1mg
Total Carbohydrates - 16.87g
Fiber - 2.27g
Sugar - 1.94g
Protein - 27.2g

The numbers above assume that ½ tablespoon of olive oil is absorbed into the cutlets when they are being seared. The fat numbers may be a little overstated, but are definitely not too low. Being a recovering accountant I always err on the conservative side with my numbers.

Comments:

This seitan is mild in flavor that is reminiscent of poultry due to the sage and rosemary. We had it cold tonight on a quick salad and it really worked as a chicken or turkey substitute. I can’t wait to try this hot with a little mushroom gravy, which is the plan for Thursday.

Unrelated note:

As always I didn’t get as many items crossed off my to do list as I had planned. The bread cubes for the stuffing are drying out now. Seitan cutlets are wrapped and waiting in the refrigerator. Caramelized garlic for the mashed potatoes and cauliflower is also done. The onions and celery have been diced and are ready to be used. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day in terms of Thanksgiving preparation. I may not have many posts but will be working on them off line while I cook and will get them posted as soon as I have a few minutes.

I am off to clean the kitchen and plan my day tomorrow. If I have time I will post the salad we had for dinner tonight before we turn in. Otherwise I will get the salad posted tomorrow morning. I hope you all have a great evening.

Flaxseed Oil is Good for Diabetic and Older Women



According to this abstract flaxseed oil has a beneficial effect on bone mineral density for both diabetic and older women.

Working in healthcare for so long I saw many older people that were hospitalized as a result of falls, and quite often they would die. It always seemed to me that older women were much more likely to be admitted for this reason. Osteoporosis in general is more common in women, due I believe to a small frame and less exercise that promotes bone growth (strength training). However, if adding a little flaxseed to my diet can help avoid bone fractures as I age, I willing to give it a try.

Flaxseed oil is high in omega 3, and is something that I have been consuming only because it is good for me. I will admit I don’t love the taste yet, and can’t manage it straight. However, if I use it 50/50 with canola or olive oil in salad dressing I find it acceptable. I am trying to work up to using it straight, but don’t really think that will happen any time soon.

If you decide to try flaxseed oil don’t heat it. It is meant to be used cold. Also, be certain to keep it in the refrigerator, it goes bad quickly. At our local stores they sell it in the refrigerated case near the miso.

Italian Finishing Salt


(pictured: herbs used in the Italian finishing salt)

A few years ago in cooking class we learned how to make seasoned salt. Which is salt and pepper with herbs. That mixture was mostly salt with some herbs and a little garlic. Being the flavor junkie that I am I had to include many more herbs and garlic. I would not suggest you use this on everything, but it works really well on Italian food. It also makes a nice homemade Christmas present for friends that like to cook. Here is how I make it.


(pictured: Italian Finishing Salt, just out of the food processor)

Italian Finishing Salt
Makes about 1 ¼ cups

Ingredients:

4 – 10 inch stems rosemary (about ¼ cup of leaves)
4 – 10 inch stems fresh oregano (about ¼ cup of leaves)
1 small bundle of fresh thyme (about 2 tablespoons of leaves)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons Tellicherry peppercorns
1 cup sea salt

Directions:

Remove the leaves from the stems and place in your food processor. Add the garlic cloves to the processor and pulse to begin to break up the herbs and garlic. Smash the peppercorns with a skillet, or the side of your chef knife and add to the food processor. Add ¼ cup of sea salt to the processor and puree to break everything into smaller pieces. Add the remaining sea salt and pulse to combine.

Pour the seasoned salt into a container with a lid. The initial texture will resemble damp sand. Allow the mixture to stand uncovered for a few days so the herbs and garlic will dry out. When the mixture is dry put a lid on it and store it on your counter.

This can be used in any Italian dish as you would use salt. It is also a nice finishing salt for Italian dishes.

Comments:

I didn’t include nutritional information as it is essence salt. I use this to finish dishes, or when I am making anything Italian. During the holidays this makes a nice present for friends that cook. You need to make it a few days ahead of time so the herbs and garlic can dry out. But it is a quick present that most people enjoy. The aroma of this salt is really strong and inviting. It smells like an Italian restaurant to me.

Thanksgiving Menu

I wanted to post this earlier but I was still adding and subtracting recipes. At the moment this is what I am making for Thursday:

Thanksgiving Menu 2009

Appetizers

Warm Marinated Olives with Fennel and Orange

Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed with Pesto Flavored Millet or Quinoa

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad over Arugula with Balsamic Glaze

Entrees

Roasted Turkey with Gravy – for the omnis

Seitan Cutlets with Sage – for the veggies

Sides

Whole Wheat Bread Stuffing with Apple, Onion and Sage

Mashed Potato and Cauliflower with Caramelized Garlic

Sauerkraut with Apple and Onion

Butternut Squash with Spinach, Cranberries and Walnuts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

Cranberry and Citrus Sauce

Dessert

Cranberry Granita

I have whole wheat bread dough rising now for the breadcrumbs for the stuffing and for the seitan. I will be cooking most of today and tomorrow to get ahead of the game. Individual recipes will be posted here, as they are finished.

My cooking tends to be very freeform and changes often mid stream. I am going to try to stick with my menu as posted, but please don’t be surprised if one of two recipes change mid stream.

With the exception of the turkey and gravy that the omnivore members of the family think de rigueur all the recipes for Thursday will be vegan, low fat and low sugar (agave or stevia only no white sugar). There will all be no white flour on the table. We will see how well this type of cooking goes over for a holiday meal. Wish me luck, I think I may need it. It is a rough crowd at our house for holidays, and expectations are high.

I hope you all have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. I am off to the kitchen now to get things going.

Giveaway at Vegan Family Style



If you haven't taken a look yet jump over to Debra's blog Vegan Family Style for a chance to win a copy of Vegan Lunch Box Around the World. It sounds like an interesting book for anyone that packs lunches. Even though my little one is in his 50's I thought it could be fun addition to my cookbook collection.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pinto Bean and Brown Rice Stew in a Tomato Base



The weather today was cool and rainy with a gray sky that looks like it was about to snow, only it isn’t quite that cold. It was the perfect day for a warm bowl of comfort food. I couldn’t decide between stew and chili so I made something that was in between the two. It has the flavors of chili but the texture was closer to stew. I find most chili recipes to be far too thick for my taste, which is why I call this recipe a stew.

I think the fresh salsa was an important component to this recipe, but not everyone agrees so I have listed those numbers separately. Here is the stew I made for dinner tonight.

Pinto Bean and Brown Rice Stew in a Tomato Base
Makes 4 large servings

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups pinto beans, soaked overnight
6 cups water to cook the beans
½ cup onion, peeled and finely diced
15 ounces canned diced tomato
15 ounces canned tomato sauce
½ cup brown rice
1 cup water, or more if needed
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
½ teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
2 bay leaves
1 chipotle in adobo, finely minced
2 cups corn kernels (no need to defrost if frozen)

Directions:

Cook the beans until just tender and set aside.

Cook the onion in the liquid from the diced tomato can until just soft. Add the beans and all the remaining ingredients except the corn and cook until the rice is tender. Just before you are ready to serve remove the bay leaves and add the corn.

I served this soup tonight with a few corn chips and salsa on top. It would also be good topped with tofu sour cream.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 454.29
Calories From Fat (5%) - 23

Total Fat - 2.68g
Saturated Fat - 0.45g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 787.37mg
Potassium - 1909.07mg
Total Carbohydrates - 90.14g
Fiber - 17.48g
Sugar - 12.12g
Protein - 22.03g

Avocado, Onion, Cucumber and Tomato Salsa Topping
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 avocado, diced
¼ onion, finely minced
½ cup cucumber, diced
½ cup tomatoes, diced
¼ cup cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
½ tablespoon hot crushed peppers
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients and stir to evenly distribute. Stir gently so that you don’t break up the avocado. This will hold overnight in the frig for lunch the next day if your avocado is not overly ripe.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 82.33
Calories From Fat (69%) - 56.48

Total Fat - 6.76g
Saturated Fat - 0.93g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 6.75mg
Potassium - 315.66mg
Total Carbohydrates - 5.97g
Fiber - 3.55g
Sugar - 0.98g
Protein - 1.29g

Comments:

I love a meal that comes in a bowl and doesn’t dirty a lot of pots and pans. The cold fresh topping makes this soup, in my opinion. I also love the crunch of the chips with this meal.

Each serving of this soup(without the salsa) contains more than 1,500IU of vitamin A, 130mg of calcium, 440mcg of folate, 490mg of phosphorus, 210mg of magnesium, and 26mcg of selenium.

Afternoon Snack: Apple with Walnut and Brazil Nut Butter and Dried Cranberries



As I said earlier I am definitely more of a snacker than a meal eater during the middle of the day. Whenever I have a light lunch, like today, I always need an afternoon snack about 3 or 4 hours later. This apple and nut butter snack is my current favorite. My husband got me started eating this and it is really good. Here is my quick afternoon snack.

Apple with Walnut and Brazil Nut Butter and Dried Cranberries
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 crisp apple, sliced into quarters and cored
2 tablespoons of walnut and Brazil nut butter
½ tablespoon dried cranberries

Directions:

Smear each apple wedge with walnut butter and top with dried cranberries.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 306.11
Calories From Fat (48%) - 146.45

Total Fat - 17.49g
Saturated Fat - 2.08g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 27.2mg
Potassium - 284.36mg
Total Carbohydrates - 38.14g
Fiber - 6.5g
Sugar - 15.02g
Protein - 4.28g

Comments:

Not only does this taste good but also it is also quite filling. It does a good job of satiating my hunger until dinner. This woman-sized version of the snack contains over 96mcg of selenium. When my hubby eats this he uses double the amount of nut butter.

This is a great snack to pack in the car when you are out running errands. It fits well in a small cooler bag with a knife and a cold pack. Whenever I need to go out for a while and don’t know the area well enough to know where to buy healthy food I carry this with me.

Unrelated note:

About 11 pm last night my hubby felt he needed a snack and wanted an apple and nut butter. Of course we didn’t have any in the frig, which meant I needed to make some. For the first time the hubby was in the room when I made the nut butter and he saw the little squirt of agave that I add to take down the tannic flavor of the walnuts. Much to my surprise he asked me to try stevia in the next batch of nut butter. This is quite remarkable since he is normally the one that doesn’t want me to make his favorite recipes healthier. At the rate we go through nut butter I will be making another batch either Wednesday or Thursday.

I will be certain to let you all know how it impacts the flavor and nutritional information. More importantly, my husband will let me know what he thinks. If the flavor doesn’t measure up I will hear about it right away.

Quick Light Lunch: Veggie Burger, Broccoli and Tropical Salsa



I have had people I know comment that I rarely post what I have for lunch and ask what type of quick meals do I make. They seem to be under the impression that healthy vegan food is time consuming and too difficult for them. Since I know at least a few people are interested I am going to try to post my lunches more often to give you ideas of what you can quickly toss together for lunch that is both healthy and vegan.

Today I grabbed a frozen veggie burger (courtesy of Costco) in a dry skillet and added broccoli and tropical salsa to it and called it a meal. Actually it is a little light on calories, but I am more of nibbler so there will be more food later this afternoon. I also put this into my hubby’s lunch today along with a couple of red potatoes (microwaved) topped with cream of cabbage and spinach, an apple with walnut butter and curried kale chips. I know it sounds like a lot of food for him but it isn’t many calories and he should have the nutrition.

My favorite part of this meal is the broccoli and tropical salsa. I love the pineapple and jalapeno with the broccoli. This is just a good cold as it is warm. It is great to have in the refrigerator for a quick healthy nibble. Here is what I made for my lunch today.

Quick Light Lunch: Veggie Burger, Broccoli and Tropical Salsa
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 Don Lee Farms Veggie Burger
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
1 serving tropical salsa

Directions:

Cook the veggie burger in a dry skillet over medium for 3 or 4 minutes on both sides, until it is beginning to brown.

While the burger is heating, place the broccoli in a microwave safe bowl and cook until it is defrosted.

To serve add tropical salsa to both the broccoli and veggie burger and serve.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 283.49
Calories From Fat (24%) - 68.01

Total Fat - 6.05g
Saturated Fat - 1.15g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 504.47mg
Potassium - 785.51mg
Total Carbohydrates - 40.37g
Fiber - 12.81g
Sugar - 9.25g
Protein - 13.43g

Comment:

Lunch is normally a quick meal at my house. I don’t like to use many processed foods, but occasionally they come in really handy. Today I didn’t have any homemade veggie burgers in my freezer so I relied on my stash of the store bought variety.

This light lunch packs a nice amount of nutrition containing more than 3,400IU of vitamin A, 200mg of vitamin C, 190mg of calcium, 220mcg of folate, 250mcg of vitamin K, 160mcg of phosphorus, and 8mcg of selenium. Not too bad for a mere 283 calories.

Unrelated note:

Those of you that have known us for years know we haven’t always eaten this healthy. In fact, it is safe to say we gravitated toward amazing gourmet food with little concern for health. For a couple of years we would eat a healthy vegan diet at home but there were no rules when we went out to eat. We deluded ourselves into thinking that we were close to the 10% rule that Dr. Fuhrman advocates in "Eat to Live" and "Eat for Health". Had I read the books more carefully I would seen that he was advocating 10% of your calories not 10% of your food could be from those less healthy foods. Even eating only 2 meals out of 21 out of the house had to result in at least 30 of 40% of our weekly calories coming from unhealthy sources due to the calorie density of those foods.

It pains me to admit this but I don’t think my GI system can handle not eating clean anymore. I feel so much better when I eat my own healthy food that it makes the thought of eating out a little worrisome, as I know the side effects to come. After having dinner out on Friday I wanted to blame my not feeling quite myself on the wine. However, I realized that it took me almost 48 hours to feel completely like myself again. I don’t think wine could impact me for that long, at least it never has.

I am mentioning this because sometimes we don’t notice how good something is until it is gone. I was beginning to take feeling good for granted. Eating out has reminded me that what we consume has a big impact on how we feel. In other words we are what we eat. I will be paying more attention to the signals from the body and trying to feed it the healthy food it seems to now crave.

Plant Phytoestrogens Could be a Natural HRT



Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a popular topic with women in my age bracket since we will all to need to decide whether to start HRT or not sometime in the next decade. All of us seem to have an opinion regarding whether HRT is a good or bad idea. While the symptoms of menopause are unpleasant (from what I hear), the possibility of increasing your probability of breast cancer makes HRT a scary option at best.

This recent study seems to indicate that plant phytoestrogens can be used as a natural HRT that won’t increase the risk of breast cancer. The abstract highlights a number of foods as containing phytoestrogens. These foods and their phytoestrogens include:

Soy products (daidzein, genistein and glycitein)
Mung beans (coumestrol)
Alfalfa sprouts (coumestrol)
Grape skins/red wine (resveratrol)

Genistein, resveratrol and glycitein all increased apoptosis (cancer cell death) but resveratrol appeared to be most effective. Additionally, daidzein appeared to cause a slight increase in breast cancer risk. However, since daidzein is found in soy along with genistein and glycitein I don’t perceive eating whole soy foods (edamame, tofu, soy milk, miso) to be a risk. Without knowing what specifically is contained in soy supplements I would be even more hesitant to use those at this point.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute resveratrol is found in grapes, wine, grape juice, peanuts, blueberries, bilberries, and cranberries. Interestingly resveratrol is well absorbed but reaches peak concentration in 60 minutes. This would seem to me to indicate that resveratrol consumption should be spread out during the day to be most effective.

On my last trip to Costco I picked up a package of dark grapes for the resveratrol and a bottle of concentrated fruit juice with resveratrol. I also noted that Costco is carrying resveratrol in pill form if anyone is interested.

I will be later after I have had a chance to exercise and get my day planned. I hope you all have a happy and healthy day today.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

German Inspired Beet and Apple Relish


(pictured: Seitan paillard with beet and apple relish)

My 80-year-old parents like my seitan, which still blows my mind. They seem to prefer it when I make meals with the seitan, as it more closely resembles the meals they are accustomed to. Tonight we had the seitan paillards from yesterday topped with a German inspired relish. This relish has a lot of flavor, which is a nice counterpoint to the subtle flavors of the seitan and creamed cabbage and spinach.

To reheat the seitan paillards, I place them in my cast iron skillet with a couple of tablespoons of water and turn the fire to high. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for a few minutes until the water evaporates (the sound coming from the skillet will change to tell you to uncover the seitan). This will happen in less than 5 minutes. Now cook the cutlets uncovered, on both sides to recrisp them.

The relish is meant to add a pop of flavor and color to the plate. I combined classic German flavors in an unexpected way to make the relish. Here is what I did.

German Inspired Beet and Apple Relish
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 medium beet, finely diced
1 apple, finely diced
¼ red onion finely diced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon apple cider
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

Directions:

Place the diced beet in ice water. Allow the beet to sit in the water for 10 minutes to pull the excess color from the beet. This will keep the entire relish from turning fuchsia. Thoroughly drain the beet of water before the next step.

Combine the beet, apple and onion and stir to combine. Whisk together the mustard, walnut oil, and apple cider. Stir the dressing into the relish. Add the fresh dill and refrigerate until needed.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 40.13
Calories From Fat (29%) - 11.74

Total Fat - 1.34g
Saturated Fat - 0.12g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 42.66mg
Potassium - 91.88mg
Total Carbohydrates - 7.31g
Fiber - 1.43g
Sugar - 4.79g
Protein - 0.49g

Comments:

The most dominant flavor in this relish is the raw onion. Make certain you cut it finely and evenly distribute it throughout the relish. If you think your onion is too pungent soak it in water for 10 minutes or so to pull out some of the sulfur. I prefer the acrid punch of flavor from the onion but I am odd like that. The secondary flavor is apple, followed by walnut oil. The beet, dill and mustard flavors are more background notes that are not as easy to identify.

No one could pick up all the specific flavors in this relish tonight. The hubby, not a big onion or mustard fan, liked it and told me he would gladly eat it again.

Now I am off to finalize the Thanksgiving menu and check the pantry to see if I need to run to the grocery store tomorrow. I will post the menu and timeline as soon as it is ready and the individual recipes as I make then. For big meals like Thanksgiving I try to start cooking a few days before the actual meal. By precooking some the dishes I avoid the dreaded "chaotic day of cooking" that happens in many homes.

I hope you all have a great evening!
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